People often ask me the source of the name, “Creating Extraordinary Futures.”
Here’s some history and background behind the name and why, to paraphrase The Princess Bride, “Those words do not mean what you think they mean.”
I’ve worked with a lot of spiritual teachers and coaches over the years who each point to one indisputable constant in our human experience—that each of us creates our own unique, internal representation of the world each and every moment, and that the only thing we can directly experience is that internal representation.
We often behave as if life is “out there,” that it is happening to us and is beyond our control. And while there appears to be an objective world “out there,” it is also impossible to find that world without a subjective observer of it.
Each of us is that subjective observer, bringing to it our interpretations, our conscious and unconscious stories of the way that world is and the way that we and others are.
But the world and self each of us experiences are not solid. Each changes as quickly as our thoughts change. We literally create and recreate our experience every moment we are alive.
This is not to suggest that we have conscious control over how we create that world, or that we can simply change it by changing our thinking. (Anyone who has tried affirmations can attest to how difficult this is.) But noticing what we are creating through thought, and just as importantly, noticing which of our thoughts we believe and which we dismiss, is critical to making changes.
And when we notice this, we find that what is actually showing up, is constant creation. We are non-stop creators who innocently create some crazy thinking along the way. When we see this, that thinking starts to slow down, and something deeper emerges.
The “Creating” in Creating Extraordinary Futures is often not personal, ego-driven creating, but the same creative force that’s behind the universe itself.
Extraordinary is one of my favorite words. Conventional definitions include words like “exceptional” and “remarkable.” When I say I help people create extraordinary futures it can even feel a little bit intimidating. Like somehow we don’t deserve something extraordinary.
And yet the word can also be read as “extra ordinary.”
The path of the work that I do with people often leads through extra ordinary. Through greater presence in this moment, in the absence of story, and greater ability to tap into our unlimited potential and capacity for change.
To me, an extraordinary future is any future that is unlimited by the stories that have brought you to this point. While it may feel impossible, I can assure you it’s not.
The most common story that I see with the executives I coach is the view that they have to choose between making an impact and having a life. My experience is the opposite.
More ease does not get in the way of more impact. Instead, it creates it. Creating an extraordinary future is in many ways about creating ease, and connection, and joy, and allowing impact to emerge from that.
Each of us is capable of living into any number of futures, including the one that we will get when we keep doing the same things that we’ve been doing up till now.
When we look into a direction and let the universe create for us, we end up with much more than when we think about a “default” future, which is usually just a little bit more of what we already have (whether we are happy with that or not).
Starting from an idea of what kind of future we want to create, from the idea that our future could be substantially different than our past, is incredibly powerful.
It was this kind of thinking that JFK was engaging in when he declared that we would put a man on the moon.
At the same time, some people think that the future they want has to be fully formed, fully guaranteed, before they are willing to step into it.
My experience is that isn’t how it works. In fact, most of the enjoyment comes from NOT knowing how it is going to work out, and starting anyway.
Committing to a result without knowing how you will create it is incredibly powerful. Especially when everything emerges from ease, connection, and joy.
Putting it all together
The Creating Extraordinary Futures Process is about helping individuals and teams see and let go of the stories and limitations they believe about themselves and their organizations. It is about recognizing our malleable experiences of a world that is fundamentally unknowable. It is about recognizing that life, both in the world of work and outside of it, is best experienced as play, and that amazing things emerge when we let go of the idea that we have to know how things are going to happen before we start.
Paradoxically, we get more done when we take things less seriously. And under the right conditions, we can see this and step into it in an instant of insight.